SIDNEY--On Tuesday, December 12, the Sidney City council met with a good number of items on their agenda. After approving the minutes from the previous council meeting, Sidney Regional Medical Center CEO Jason Petik addressed the council and gave an update on the many projects currently being worked on, and updated future plans for improvements at the medical center.
Petik started with the Long Term Care project, noting that construction has been moving along nicely and the new buildings are completely enclosed and outfitted with temporary heat for cold-weather work. Workers are now inside, sheetrocking and building the interiors and in the heated space. Petik said that goal is to complete the project in August of 2024, and occupancy should start in September.
Petik then said they had recruited a new thoracic surgeon, and were also looking to bring in a new dermatologist. He also stated that over the next three years two new buildings will be added, a cancer center and a potential Community Center. Petik said there are no concrete plans concerning a new Community Center, and there are just discussions at this time. Petik also said they are looking to add two more Operating Room spaces, increasing the total from three to five, although this has not yet been approved by the Board of Directors. They are still at the phase of obtaining financing from various sources such as the USDA.
Petik then said SRMC was looking to bring in a new Urologist, Dr. Caldwell, in June. He also said that a new Radiology addition was in the works, adding additional Ultrasound capabilities, and also expanding Vascular and Respiratory Therapy capabilities. He said that office areas would be reconfigured to optimize their existing space.
Petik then said that SRMC has been working with Regional West Medical Center and the Dorwart Cancer Center to upgrade the Cancer Center's capabilities. He said that much of the Dorwart's equipment is nearing the end of its useful life. Petik then spoke of obtaining additional funds by maximizing SRMC's financial utilization. It has been 10 years since the new center was finished, and it was time to add on to the existing structure to best maximize the hospital's financial position.
City Manager David Scott then addressed the council concerning the Community Center's Financing Fund, and was looking for the council to approve a letter of intent to apply for state funds that are available with the city's Creative District designation. State law requires a letter of intent to apply for these funds, and the council approved unanimously.
City of Sidney Electric Superintendent Mike Palmer next addressed the council concerning the purchase of a Ditch Witch XF 50 Vacuum Excavator. This unit has double the capacity of the existing XF 25 unit and it is necessary to perform the work required by the Electric Department efficiently. The council had already budgeted $150k for a new unit, and Palmer had received a bid for $122.9k for the XF 50. Palmer said the plan would be to transfer the existing XF 25 to the Water Department, that currently is using an older unit. The older unit then would be auctioned. The council approved the purchase unanimously.
City of Sidney Director of Transportation Kasey Kantor next addressed the council concerning a request for an increase of $6000 for a Ford Lift Van for the City's Transportation Department. He said the additional money would cover a new setup that would better accommodate the users of city transportation as it has a movable floor and can be set up to better serve riders in wheelchairs or those with special transportation needs. Kantor said the service has had over 2000 riders since October and over 6000 riders in the last six months, which is the highest amount in 20 years. He said the unit would have a March delivery date, and that the department would likely request another van or bus in the next few months due to increased ridership. The city has the reserve funds to cover the expense.
New City of Sidney Budget Director Kegan Carwin gave the November 2023 Budget reports, noting that overall that revenues were flat from November of 2022 to Nevember of 2023. Although the General Fund revenues are down, Carwin expects the revenues to increase as reimbursements come in, as is usual practice. In his new position, Carwin said that he has met with all department heads, and every department is currently operating within their budget.
David Scott gave a brief City Manager's report, and thanked all the city employees for their work on the Hickory Square event and the decorating of downtown Sidney. He also thanked the Chamber of Commerce, the Community Center and all of the volunteers for their work on the Holiday Fairground display. He also spoke about the great attendance and outstanding work done by all of the participants in the E3 Entrepreneurship Competition held last week at Sidney High School, and noted that January 12 would be the date for the city's Employee Appreciation Banquet at Hillside Golf Club.
City Attorney Jay Leef noted that the City would be closing on the WTA/812 13th Avenue property on Friday, December 15, and she anticipated a smooth closing on the properties. Sidney Public Library Director Amanda Eastin said that the Winter Reading program has started, and that the library would be closed for the holidays on December 23-26 and December 30-January 1. Chief Aikens of the Sidney Police Department said that he had two new officers graduating from the Police Academy, and thanked the Fox Theater for a successful "Shop with a Cop" movie program.
City Mayor Brad Sherman then said that a survey of middle and high school students in Sidney had been completed and the top three things they would like to see in Sidney were More Shopping Options, More Entertainment Options, and More Volunteering Opportunities. Sherman also gave an update on the student from Georgia that had chosen learning about Sidney, Nebraska as a school project, and he is now currently putting together a website blog about his project and the City of Sidney. Sherman also noted that on January 14 there will be a basketball "Hoop Shoot", and also Mrs Gilliam and Sidney High School students had made new brackets for the lighting wires for downtown Sidney using the school's 3D Printer.